[ExI] Consequentialist world improvement

Charlie Stross charlie.stross at gmail.com
Wed Oct 10 17:30:57 UTC 2012



> A single mysterious computer program that placed orders — and then subsequently canceled them — made up 4 percent of all quote traffic in the U.S. stock market last week, according to the top tracker of high-frequency trading activity. The motive of the algorithm is still unclear.
> The program placed orders in 25-millisecond bursts involving about 500 stocks, according to Nanex, a market data firm. The algorithm never executed a single trade, and it abruptly ended at about 10:30 a.m. ET Friday.

Not sure whether to be more frightened by this one:


> Steve Perkins, a veteran senior broker at PVM Oil Futures in London, managed to spend $520 million on oil futures contracts throughout the night, which caused crude to jump more than $1.50 a barrel overnight and sent analysts into a tear to find the reason why.
> The next morning, an office clerk called Perkins at home to confirm the trade of 7 million barrels in the wee hours. Perkins said he had no memory of the trade. Soon after, he sent his boss an e-mail saying he had to attend to a family illness that day and would not be in the office.
> Only later in the morning did Perkins admit to having been in a “drunken blackout” while he tried to corner the crude market. By that time, the firm had lost almost $9.8 million after unwinding the alcohol-induced trades.
> The UK’s Financial Services Authority fined Perkins almost $110,000 and banned him from trading for five years in London, saying, “Mr. Perkins poses an extreme risk to the market when drunk.”

-- Charlie

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